There are few stories more heart-wrenching than those in which workers take advantage of vulnerable senior citizens. But the case involving 86-year-old Renee Fuld is particularly egregious because the New York City woman also is disabled.
Fuld's aide, Jackie Pokuwaah, 52, was arrested last year for allegedly stealing more than $800,000 from Fuld (pictured at left), who uses a wheelchair to get around. Pokuwaah apparently convinced her patient to write more than 400 checks, payable to the aide, for items such as ice cream, laundry and wallpaper, and then pocketed the cash, the New York Post reports.
On Tuesday, jurors in a Queens courtroom found Pokuwaah guilty of several charges in the check-writing scheme, including grand larceny and criminal possession. She now faces more than 15 years in prison when sentenced later this month.
The Bronx resident was aided in her deception by Fuld's various ailments which, the Post notes, doctors and social workers have found to include a "mathematical disorder" that prevents her from understanding the value of money.
That incapacity allegedly permitted Pokuwaah to ask Fuld for a $1,700 check to buy diabetic ice cream and $700 checks for laundry. According to testimony Fuld gave during the weeklong trial, Pokuwaah also asked for nearly $6,000 for carpeting; $5,000 for vitamins; and $6,000 for wallpaper, which "I never received."
Fuld also said that the full-time aide paid herself double the $1,561 salary that she earned each week.
Pokuwaah also moved -- along with her two children -- into the elderly victim's Queens home where they lived rent-free.
The scheme was discovered by a bank employee who noticed suspicious memos on the checks Pokuwaah deposited twice a week and alerted investigators, according to the Post.
Pokuwaah's attorney declined comment after the guilty verdict, but he reportedly said during closing arguments that Fuld wasn't victimized, since she's now well enough to write and balance her own checkbook.